Covid-19 misinformation on social media is killing people, Biden says

US is experiencing a wave of new coronavirus infections amid vaccine hesitancy

US President Joe Biden on Friday declared that misinformation on social media is “killing people” while countries around the world experience an increase in new coronavirus cases due to the dominant and highly transmissible Delta variant.

“They’re killing people,” he told reporters outside the White House. “The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people.”

The Biden administration has recently pointed to misinformation about the coronavirus and Covid-19 vaccines as a cause for concern.

"We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts," Facebook spokesman Kevin McAlister said on Friday.

"The fact is that more than two billion people have viewed authoritative information about Covid-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet.

"More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period," he said.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday that staff was “flagging problematic posts” of pandemic misinformation for Facebook.

“It’s painful to know that nearly every death we are seeing now could have been prevented,” US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said on Friday.

“The truth is that across our nation, the voices of doctors, nurses, scientists and public health experts are too often being drowned out by the false sirens of misinformation. Misinformation robs us of our freedom to make decisions for our health based on science and facts.”

The country is reporting more than 27,000 daily cases nationwide, the highest rate since May, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.

CNN and The New York Times report that all 50 states are seeing rises in cases, and most of those states say infections are overwhelmingly among the unvaccinated and are leading to higher levels of hospital admissions.

“There is a clear message that is coming through: this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Friday.

While the US has a surplus of vaccine supply, only 48.4 per cent of the US population is fully vaccinated and 61 per cent have had at least one dose. The rate of vaccination has slowed to a seven-day average of about 445,000 immunisations per day, despite once being in the millions.

More than 608,000 people in the US have died from Covid-19.

Reuters has contributed to this report

Updated: July 16th 2021, 9:26 PM
EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS